On Tuesday 11 Shevat, the members of the Am Echad delegation
from the Untied States met with maranan verabonon, the
gedolei haTorah vehaChassidus as well as with the
heads of the Israeli government, public figures and many
others. On Monday they met with prime minister Ehud Barak.
The 100 members of the Am Echad contingent began to arrive in
Israel on Sunday night.
On Monday they met with prime minster Ehud Barak in his
office. Also present at the meeting were MK Rabbi Avrohom
Ravitz, MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, Labor Minister Eli Yishai
and others. According to the directives of maranan
verabonon to promote the idea of a genealogical database
(sefer yuchsin) due to the serious problems that have
arisen in Eretz Yisroel and in chutz la'aretz, they
raised that issue with the prime minister.
The atmosphere which prevailed at the meeting with Prime
Minister Barak was very grave. Members of the contingent
stressed the dangers posed by the immigration of masses of
non-Jews to Israel They emphasized that the entire world
knows about Israel's open door policy with respect to almost
every non-Jew who wishes to enter it, and that Israel is one
of the easiest of the developed countries to gain entrance
to. The members of the contingent also pointed to the dangers
of the Basic Laws, and told the Prime Minister: "You must
know that the state must not lose its Jewish identity. The
whole world knows that this is a Jewish state, and this must
In his remarks to the members of the contingent, Ehud Barak
said that he is currently more familiar with the essence of
the Torah world than he was before. "I have religious
relatives who apprised me of the nature of the religious
sector. Today, I understand the chareidi sector better. I
understand the demands the chareidi parties make on behalf of
their constituents. Regarding your fears and concerns, I
totally understand the nature of your fears and concerns."
On Tuesday, they met with maranan verabonon at their
homes. At these meetings, the important issue of the
genealogical database was discussed. Stress was placed on the
terrible situation which prevails in Israel today, with the
hundreds of thousands of non-Jews who are flooding the
At the end of the meetings in Jerusalem, the members of the
contingent were to tour the Shuvu school in Petach Tikvah,
and to meet with the rabbonim of the city and its mayor, as
well with the general director of Shuvu in Israel. They were
also scheduled to meet with the rabbi of Rechovot. After
that, they were to meet with the gedolei haTorah
vehaChassidus in Bnei Brak. The day is scheduled to
conclude with a festive dinner in the auditorium of the Bnei
Brak municipality attended by rabbonim, the mayor of Bnei
Brak and many guests.
On Wednesday morning, they are slated to dedicate the offices
of Am Echad on Yirmiyahu Street in Jerusalem. This ceremony
will be attended by the Admor of Novominsk, the Rosh
of American Agudas Yisroel, as well as by MKs Rabbi Avrohom
Ravitz and Rabbi Meir Porush; the director of the
Yerushalayim Office of Am Echad, Rabbi Yonasan Rosenblum, and
Later on they will meet with the chief rabbis. After that, a
lunch will be held in the Knesset. It will be attended by the
Labor and Welfare Minister, the Housing Minister, the
chairman of the Knesset, Knesset members and public figures.
On Wednesday afternoon, the members of the contingent will
meet with government ministers Chaim Ramon, Chaim Oron and
Natan Sharansky, as well as with the chairman of the Likud,
Ariel Sharon, and a number of MKs from all of the parties.
On Thursday, the members of the contingent will participate
in two symposiums. The first, to be held in the morning, will
focus on the topic, "The Media and the Religious Jews."
Members of the English language press, as well as Rabbi
Mordechai Neugershall and additional prominent figures, will
participate in the symposium. The second symposium will deal
with the issue, "Israel -- a Jewish and Democratic State,"
and will be attended by Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, as
well as by the secretary of the government, Yitzchok Herzog,
and other MKs.
This is the second time that a contingent of Am Echad members
have come to Israel. Two years ago, they conducted a similar
visit to Israel. Heading the contingent at that time was
Rabbi Moshe Sherer, z"l. The current visit has been
organized by Rabbi Shmuel Bloom, the deputy chairman of
Agudas Yisroel in America; Rabbi Abraham Biderman and others.
Among the members of the contingent are prominent
philanthropists, businessmen and activists from all the
religious organizations in the United States.
The planning committee arrived in arrived in Israel a number
of days before the contingent. It is led by the deputy
chairman of the Agudas Yisroel of America, Rabbi Shlomo
Gertzulin, one of the heads of the contingent, who is
coordinating the meetings and the events in which the members
of the Am Echad party will participate.